Category Archives: Balance the Budget

Another Ethics Challenge, the Great Wall

As a campaign promise Mr Trump said he will build a wall, a great wall, the greatest wall…and Mexico will pay for it.  Mexico said even then before the election, they will not. As of yesterday the transition team is pressuring congress to foot the bill. Just in case there is someone out there who doesn’t really understand how this works, that means you and I will pay for the wall with our taxes and additional government debt/interest. So maybe our kids will end up paying for it too.

Sean Spicer, a spokesman for Trump, said on Friday the incoming administration would need government funding to build the wall and that Trump said in October Mexico’s payment would be a reimbursement.

“The idea that we’re going through the appropriations process and figuring out how to pay for it shouldn’t be news,”

Well yes it is news. Not until now has anyone on the Trump team, nor Mr Trump himself even suggested we would be paying for this unnecessary wall. But we don’t understand says Mr Trump, and the media isn’t telling the whole story; Mexico will pay us back. Unfortunately the small problem with his statement is that he stands alone in his position, no one else agrees with him. Congress hasn’t said Mexico will reimburse us for the wall. And Mexico? They have clearly and specifically said they will NOT pay for the wall.

So here’s where we are. One man, just one, claims Mexico will pay for the wall. Everyone else involved, the House, the Senate, and Mexico all say they will not. We haven;t been told the truth here in ways beside the funding.  Take a moment to read The Truth about America’s Illegal Immigrants. Already down, just one half are from Mexico, most enter legally, they pay $10.6 billion in state and local taxes, pay $13 billion in Social Security, and few come across the over 1,900 miles of border a wall is to protect. Make sure your representatives know we the majority, see trough the Trump lie and object.

Disappearing Deficit

I’ve said it before but once again…Don’t listen to the politicians. Policymakers in DC continue to fight over how to curb the deficit in spite of it being a very bad idea until unemployment is much lower. But look…it is going away by itself… without their help.

May budget report

Budget Totals from The May 7 CBO Report

Well it’s not really going away by itself. The deficit is shrinking because people are slowly getting back to work, in turn making money, both adding to the federal tax receipts and reducing outlays required for substance and unemployment. Nice how that works. Take a look at the comments from this months CBO report:

“The federal government ran a budget deficit of $489 billion in the first seven months of fiscal year 2013 (that is, from October 2012 through April 2013), according to CBO’s estimates. That amount is $231 billion less than the shortfall recorded during the same period last year

Individual income and social insurance (payroll) taxes together increased by $184 billion (or 16 percent). Taxes withheld from workers’ paychecks rose by $99 billion (or 9 percent), mainly because of higher wages and salaries, the expiration of the payroll tax cut in January 2013, and increases (beginning in January) in tax rates on income above certain thresholds.”

Outlays for unemployment benefits declined by $15 billion (or 25 percent), mostly because fewer people have been receiving benefits in recent months.”

Of course there is a lot more, but economic improvements in short order solve both the need for spending and increased revenue to offset the deficit. People working… while policy makers sit idle.

Old Assault Weapons—New Taxes

Are they related? Yes; both the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 and the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act of 2001 were passed by the US House and Senate, and signed into temporary laws expiring in 10 years. That was the plan, ten years and both would end barring significant positive impacts and the resulting votes necessary to make them permanent. But that’s pretty much where the relationship dies if we listen to the political banter.

But as the 10 year temporary assault weapons ban came to a close it was quietly allowed to end. No fanfare, no public pronouncements about “new” assault weapons being loosed on the public, few pros—cons kicked about of the impact to the country or the future of Americans. The discussion was so limited it was virtually nonexistent. Today as our House and Senate considers another ban we hear much about “disarming” the public, “infringement of constitutional rights” and much more, some truth and some non-truth. Were there positive or negative outcomes as a result of the temporary ban? I’m not discussing the assault weapons ban except to say it was temporary, and then it expired just as it was intended and passed in 1994 to do.

However as temporary tax reductions came near to end we’ve heard a loud outcry about “new” taxes being livied on businesses and public, claims about the impacts to the country, and how horrible it will be for free enterprise impacting the future of Americans. On allowing the tax (temporary) reductions to expire the discussion points include one-liners like “no new revenue”, “budget cuts”, “shrinking government”, and “hurting the economy”. Really they are just the old taxes, nothing new at all about them.

If we think outcomes should count and we indeed want to look at potential impacts of the temporary law, here are a few talking points: The “old” tax rates (now temporarily reduced) were in effect for the period back when GDP growth was 5%, unemployment was running at 4%, and there were federal revenue excesses of $236.2 Billion, yes actually paying down the national debt verses running an annual deficit.

Since we’ve enacted these temporary tax reductions, we have GDP growth at 2%, 3Q 2012, unemployment at 8%, a $1.3 Trillion (2011) and $1.1 Trillion (2012) annual deficit, and a major migration of wealth from lower and middle class to the top few percent. All that in spite of the Heritage Foundation report predicting the temporary cuts would result in complete elimination of the U.S. national debt by fiscal year 2010.  But hey, the Heritage Foundation has been wrong about inflation for ~5 years now too.

Taxes and the Economy

Do Low Tax Rates Help the Economy?

If we need more let’s couple that experience with the study discussed a few weeks ago analyzing the impacts of tax rates on the GDP, savings rates, and productivity. Now we have our own decade of personal experience as to what happened and a study from 1945 on telling us these past years are indeed NOT an anomaly. 

As I mentioned in Low Taxes verses Economy:

  • Lowering marginal tax rates does not increase economic activity nor impact the GDP.
  • Lowering capital gains rates does not increase economic activity nor impact the GDP.
  • Lowering marginal tax rates and/or capital gains tax rates does not increase saving and investment.
  • Lowering marginal tax rates and/or capital gains tax rates does not increase U.S productivity.
  • Lastly, lowering capital gains and/or marginal tax rates does make the wealthy wealthier and add to the significant and growing U.S income inequality.

I’m starting to like the sound of those “old” tax rates. So let the temporary tax breaks expire just like the temporary assault weapons ban. Or to be credible, we should at least call them “old” taxes. Old as in when the economy was fine, the deficit and talk of austerity nonexistent.

1937 all Over Again

Can’t help but note that even Jim Jubak is concerned about a repeat of 1937 when cutting the budget too quickly plunged the economy into the dreaded double dip.

 I’m pretty sure that we can’t yet declare victory in the Great Recession, since the specter of a repeat of 1937 still hangs over the global economy. As Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke knows well, 1937 is the year that overconfidence in a US economic recovery led Congress and the President to aim for a balanced budget in the belief that the Great Depression was over. That mistake ushered in another economic downturn that wouldn’t itself be ended until the “economic stimulus program” known otherwise as World War II.

So far that makes Krugman, Bernanke, me, and now Jim Jubak. OK there are a few more, but apparently not enough in the House and Senate. Hello?

As the saying goes, “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” At who’s expense is the real concern…

Blinded by Belief

If someone had told me a few years ago that human beings could completely ignore facts simply because of their beliefs I would have called them wrong. Well, I am wrong. I held human kind in high esteem thinking education, reason, conscious thought could influence them to the truth, at least a large degree of the truth. We see by virtue of Tuesdays Business Insider survey and report, just how wrong I have been. Human opinion IS indeed influenced by what they want to believe, apparently politicians too.

The beauty of this survey is in the methodology, laying out solution options for the self imposed sequestration problem, but stripping away all indicators of political party, title, or who sponsored the plan, these pollsters put potential solutions to the public and the public has spoken. In such a big margin there really is no room for interpretation, they have chosen a strategy far different than their (alleged) representation.  Will Washington listen?

     “The poll asked participants to consider the core points of three sequester replacement proposals in Congress, without telling them the partisan affiliation of those plans. It found that in some cases, both Democrats and Republicans actually opposed their own party’s plans and/or backed their adversaries’ proposal.”

Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, read each proposed strategy and gave their preference, true democracy in action. The result in that most self identified Republicans disagree with strategy put forth by Republican leadership, instead choosing the option pushed by House Progressive Democrats. In a blind poll, verses one in which who put forth what, unencumbered by public arguments influencing the outcome, the strategy put forth by the House Progressive Caucus has the public support as the option considered mast palatable, workable, and good for the country.

     “The House Progressive Caucus plan replaces the entire sequester with a new plan with equivalent savings. It accomplishes this by ending subsidies to fossil fuel companies, closing several tax loopholes, cutting the corporate meal and entertainment tax deduction at 25 percent, and enacting a 28 percent limit on certain tax deductions and extensions”

In the end, while many humans may truelly not have the ability to set aside preconceived preferences, they chose good option in the blind. And in a democracy, they speak. I sure hope Washington pays attention. After all legislators are the ones who created this self imposed problem in the first place.

Sequester

I’ve mentioned once or twice…OK maybe a few times more how bad an idea it is to cut the Federal budget right now. Oh it can be cut and should, but not now while still climbing out of a recession. I even talked about how much less unemployment we would have right now if we had grown government (like during the Reagan and Bush administrations. There have been few believers. Unfortunate.

But now with sequestration a few days away, somebody is actually getting, and more importantly transmitting, the same message.  Not just anybody, let’s hear it for Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. He deems it “significant headwind” From his comments yesterday:

    “The challenge for the Congress and the Administration is to put the federal budget on a sustainable long-run path that promotes economic growth and stability without unnecessarily impeding the current recovery.

 

Significant progress has been made recently toward reducing the federal budget deficit over the next few years. The projections released earlier this month by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicate that, under current law, the federal deficit will narrow from 7 percent of GDP last year to 2-1/2 percent in fiscal year 2015. As a result, the federal debt held by the public (including that held by the Federal Reserve) is projected to remain roughly 75 percent of GDP through much of the current decade.

 

However, a substantial portion of the recent progress in lowering the deficit has been concentrated in near-term budget changes, which, taken together, could create a significant headwind for the economic recovery. The CBO estimates that deficit-reduction policies in current law will slow the pace of real GDP growth by about 1-1/2 percentage points this year, relative to what it would have been otherwise. A significant portion of this effect is related to the automatic spending sequestration that is scheduled to begin on March 1, which, according to the CBO’s estimates, will contribute about 0.6 percentage point to the fiscal drag on economic growth this year. Given the still-moderate underlying pace of economic growth, this additional near-term burden on the recovery is significant. Moreover, besides having adverse effects on jobs and incomes, a slower recovery would lead to less actual deficit reduction in the short run for any given set of fiscal actions.”

 

“To address both the near- and longer-term issues, the Congress and the Administration should consider replacing the sharp, frontloaded spending cuts required by the sequestration with policies that reduce the federal deficit more gradually in the near term but more substantially in the longer run. Such an approach could lessen the near-term fiscal headwinds facing the recovery while more effectively addressing the longer-term imbalances in the federal budget.”

It’s getting less lonely over here.

Paul Ryan – Integrity

We know he’s the GOP running mate, heard lots of hype on everything from the tea

Paul Ryan

party, Medicare, music, to how he works out.  I DON”T CARE and here’s why; integrity…lack of integrity.

Ryan is both proclaimed, and self proclaimed as a deficit hawk and this is a lie. In my first blog [1] I wrote about the 19 Senators who voted for the $850 Billion (bank) Bailout bill but who also claim they want a balanced budget.  That activity was not limited to the Senate. Mr. Ryan it would seems voted right with the 19. Remember, all of the $850 Billion was deficit spending. Integrity.

But like the infomercial, that’s not all. Mr. Ryan also voted for the auto industry bailout, and voted to retain federal subsidies for big oil corporations. His “budget” would also retain the oil subsidies while cutting EPA enforcement, alternative energy and conservation funding. For that he is at least consistent, but what it means is he is not a deficit hawk as he proclaims. His budget world would retain subsidies and tax breaks for already wildly successful oil corporations and make it up by cutting things like food stamps, welfare, women’s health, and education. Even the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops critiqued Ryan’s (himself a Catholic) proposal “for cutting food stamps and other assistance programs for the poor after Ryan said his Catholic faith helped shape the policies in the document” [2] He is far less interested in balancing the budget than he is in furthering his ideologist agenda…Integrity.

I’m with Jim Cramer on this. Ryan’s selection won’t make a bit of difference except getting some attention which the campaign desperately needed after a month of gaffes, but being otherwise ignored. “What rich person who wants his taxes lower thinks Ryan will make that much of a difference? For people voting on their tax rates, haven’t they already settled on the idea of voting for Romney? Other than rich people, are any Americans willing to sacrifice Medicare when the program pays for endless best-in-the-world health care? Is there anyone other than the rich — who can afford it anyway — who would change his mind?” [3] A non-impact on the voters unless we actually start to care about voting records and…integrity.

What we have in the end is just another politician. One who hasn’t made a real living doing anything else but being on your and my payroll in Washington.  And one who’s voting record and proposed budget supports his intent to support already successful corporations at the expense of a legitimate safety net. One who says one thing, and does another. Integrity, where can we find some for these guys?

 [1] http://americanmoneylies.com/?p=23

[2] Romney selects Paul Ryan as VP, By Jonathan Easley and Emily Goodin – 08/11/12 07:10 AM ET

[3] http://www.topix.com/forum/com/bmy/TCKJB0FTPA2SU6A9K

Free The Oil Market

Let capitalism run, supply and demand, the strong will survive, and the economy will roar forward at full speed ahead. I’ve read these lines so often on social networks this year It’s my first line item to balancing the budget, obvious in this capitalist effort, we cut fossil fuel subsidies.

   Tax preferences have been around since 1916, intended to stimulate domestic oil and natural gas production. [1] Today oil and gas production, and the corporations behind that production are as strong, if not stronger than ever, yet the subsidies continue. They even got larger in many cases through several tax rules like the Foreign Tax Credit.

Our Prices are Some of the Lowest in the World, click here  

I’m not going to write all the subsidy details; you can read them here. Estimating US Governmant Subsidies to Energy Sources 2002_2008

The cost of subsidies is over $10 Billion per year based on conservative estimates. And that $10 Billion doesn’t even consider the costs of protecting and defending pipelines and shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf, our military’s direct contribution to oil corporations and their profits. If the cost of military contribution is included we can safely/conservatively add another $42 Billion in fuel subsidies.

Congressional Leaks to Oil

Several lawmakers have already introduced legislation to end some of these subsidies and the President requested similar legislation as well.  Unfortunately it has gone nowhere in spite of the conservative position of getting government out of business, perhaps a result of the money spent by industry lobbyists [2] and/or campaign contributions: “political action committees affiliated with oil and gas companies have donated $238.7 million to candidates and parties since the 1990 election cycle, 75 percent of which has gone to Republicans.” [3]

There will be impacts of course, the cost of fuel for our cars, trucks, heating, and electricity will rise over time as the costs are of course passed on to the consumer. But keep in mind: we are already paying this cost through our taxes…passing it on without the government involvement should appeal to conservatives; and we are paying in additional government incentives to conserve…which we can reduce in other budget reduction actions if we allow the market price affect consumption; energy costs in the US are far lower than other developed countries. In actual cost, the US was 44th among developed countries, if we consider cost relative to income the US fall to 50th among 55 countries. [4]

So there is our first $10 Billion plus interest of course since it is all deficit spending. I’ll get cracking on the balance sheet as we move forward.

[1] http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/03-06-FuelsandEnergy_Brief.pdf

[2] http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/indusclient.php?id=E01

[3] http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E01

[4] http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2012/05/highest-cheapest-gas-prices-by-country.html

I Can Balance that Budget for you Mr. Congressman

You apparently can’t or won’t get it done. That may sound shocking to some, unimportant to others, a foul to many who’s pet projects and earmarks will be done in, but with all the political battle cries it is worth exploring… simply because it can be done.

Federal Deficit Through the Years

In 2011 deficit spending was $1.3 Trillion. [1] So far in 2012 we are ~11.5 percent under last year’s pace but at this rate will likely top the $1 Trillion mark again in 2012. The difference so far appears to be an increase in tax receipts due to a bit stronger economy coupled with a reduction of spending. [2] To conservatives this would indicate we are on the right track even though I suspect political rhetoric will preclude saying it out loud. Liberals and I in this case, lament the loss of public sector jobs as the cuts have taken effect and in-turn pushed more folks onto the roles of the unemployed. [3]

To balance the budget will take cooperation of both major parties accepting things each object to. We cannot, as Phillips articulates (American Theocracy) give huge tax breaks, and then insist on balancing the budget solely through spending cuts. It will take both. Remember it was balanced not too many years ago.  There are both conservative and liberal readers here and I’m confident the direction I’m heading will provide enough discussion, debate, agreement, and consternation for all. For Modern Monetary Theory supporters keep reading, you may be able to bear some of my solutions. Over the next weeks or perhaps more I’ll put forth inputs and hope readers will jump in with comments to help refine these as we move forward. We will not all agree but let’s not allow ourselves to fall prey to the DC stalemate where our national (alleged) leadership simply cannot support any idea but their own party’s and political contributors.

Without detailstoday, here are topics I’ll cover in future posts. Subsidies on fossil fuels, energy distribution, alternative energy, banks; taxes including long-term gains rules and rates, foreign tax credits, and certain exemptions; and other topics like the military budget, drug war options, coin seignorage, and reducing the interest on existing debt.

None of these will solve the issue by itself, but one of my pet peeves is the old saying of “this (or that) change really won’t make much difference to the overall debt”. Let’s face it, no one who’s run up a big credit debt did it with a single purchase, but over many small things it grew and grew and grew. Same here, we and congress can nickel and dime this elephant down to nothing…just like your own budget. As I go, we can add up some numbers and see where it stands. In the end, we’re looking for a rough Trillion dollars annually. Piece of cake, but it’ll be a big piece to swallow.

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/07/us-usa-debt-cbo-idUSTRE7965IA20111007

[2] http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/news-summary-us-budget-deficit-totals-974-billion-through-july-trails-last-years-pace/2012/08/10/0212f216-e326-11e1-89f7-76e23a982d06_story.html

[3] http://americanmoneylies.com/?p=90

Balance the Budget? – Depends Who’s Spending!

If Senators cannot vote and fund bills in a way consistent with the very spending limits they claim to hold dear, they should leave, and we need to help them

       19 Senators forfeit credibility in their quest for obstructionist party politics. While you may not be surprised, it is rare any Senator, let alone a long list of them would leave a trail of open misrepresentation and deceit, it will be even more unfortunate if we let them get away with it. In their view, deficits are clearly OK to help big business, unacceptable for keeping the government running and helping Middle Americans.

Anyone coherent last summer was aware of the battle over raising the debt ceiling. The last minute posturing, press releases, public demands, and holding the bill hostage to a Balanced Budget Amendment made headlines daily. The battle caused wild swings in the financial market, lowering of the US debt rating, further polarized our political environment, and in the end costs you and me money. Not only did nothing good come out of the argument, the entire conflict was Boloney. [1]

To get a picture of the deception let’s look at the end of the Bush presidency and the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, more commonly known as the Bank Bailout Bill. Submitted at $700 billion the bill didn’t make it out of the House, so the Senate picked it up anyway; passed it as an “amendment” adding roughly another $150 billion making the total cost $850 billion. Two key points: The money went to help big banks including bonuses for many executives who caused the problem; and every penny was deficit spending; yes both the $700 billion of bailout and the $150 billion in unrelated “extras” added by the Senate,  [2]

19 Senators on this list voted for the $850 billion in deficit spending. [3] All 19 then stood with the GOP leadership insisting on a Balanced Budget Amendment as a condition for raising the national debt ceiling. They pushed the government to the brink of shutdown, caused market havoc and lowering of the US debt rating while ignoring their own votes for more debt. All 19 voted again for the Boehner Balanced budget amendment which insisted the budget be balanced through spending cuts, again ignoring their own actions to raise spending, and the national deficit, when it supported big business. [4] But the truth gets worse.

Look back again at the Bush Presidency where the national debt limit began at $5.95 trillion. He promised to pay off that debt in 10 years, but instead raised the limit to $9.815 trillion. Here’s where the GOP leadership stood while the debt limit was raised five times. (data courtesy of ThinkProgress)

June 2002: Congress approves a $450 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $6.4 trillion. McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor vote “yea”, Kyl votes “nay.”

May 2003: Congress approves a $900 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $7.384 trillion. All four approve.

November 2004: Congress approves an $800 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.1 trillion. All four approve.

March 2006: Congress approves a $781 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.965 trillion. All four approve.

September 2007: Congress approves an $850 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $9.815 trillion. All four approve.

There were no demands to reduce spending as a condition of increasing the debt ceiling. Of perhaps greater interest is that the May 2003 debt limit increase and the $350 billion tax cuts passed on the same day. Certainly gives the appearance of then helping the wealthy, now ignoring Middle America. In the end, these Senators have no credibility. Bending their version of truth with the political wind may have become acceptable to them; it should never be acceptable to America. If Senators cannot vote and fund bills in a way consistent with the very spending limits they claim (to us anyway) to hold dear, they should leave, we need to help them. Remember there were many more involved pushing the country to the brink of default, these are the 19 whose voting record is in direct conflict with their stated position on the debt ceiling. [5]

Here are The 19 and their stated positions while holding the debt limit vote hostage: **

  1. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Alexander has said the debt ceiling vote “should be tied to debt reduction,” spokesman Nick Simpson said (4/20/11)
  2. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.*
  3. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R- Ga.* “While I don’t believe Congress should allow a potentially catastrophic default by the federal government, I do believe that any increase in the debt ceiling must come with policy reforms and assurances that future spending and deficits are being addressed in a meaningful way.” (Chambliss statement via spokeswoman Bronwyn LanceChester (4/21/11).
  4. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.: “I need absolutely certainty that we’ve made the critical changes that are necessary to put this country back where it needs to go. And unless we do that, there’s no way I support it.” (4/17/11, Fox News Sunday.)
  5. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.* Wants spending caps. (4/14/11)
  6. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.: “I am absolutely not going to vote to raise the debt ceiling unless we dramatically change the character of our spending,” Corker said. (4/17/11 speech)
  7. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “I intend to vote against raising the debt ceiling unless we can get some systemic reforms – the kind the president’s own fiscal commission recommended,” (4/3/11, CNN’s “State of the Union.”)
  8. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: “I do believe that the debt ceiling is an opportunity to provide leadership that has been missing in the past, to prevent America from defaulting on the debt, provide leadership now,” (5/1/11, “Fox News Sunday.”)
  9. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa: “We’ve got tremendous leverage by not increasing the debt to get a lot of things done that we want done — tackling entitlements and tackling a constitutional amendment requiring a balance budget. I support moving in both of those areas.” (4/5/11)
  10. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. “The [debt ceiling] is the one where we have to see reforms before the debt ceiling is raised or we would be in danger or we would be in danger of having to face this again in another year or two. Which we cannot do.” (4/8/2011)
  11. Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. “He has consistently said we can’t increase the debt ceiling without significant spending cuts,” spokeswoman Julia Lawless said.
  12. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.: “There must be a serious commitment to reduce spending before he could consider voting to raise the debt ceiling,” Isakson Deputy Chief of Staff Joan Kirchner said.
  13. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. No. Kyl opposes raising debt ceiling baring some significant deficit cutting action, spokesman Ryan Patmintra said (4/21/11).
  14. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.: (4/13/11, interview) “Senator Lugar wants to see significant spending cuts as part of a debt limit increase deal,” senior advisor Mark Helmke said.
  15. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.*
  16. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “My view is — and I hope this would be the view of every single Senate Republican — is that in order to get my vote for raising the debt ceiling, we would need to do something significant about the debt, and let me define what I would view as significant: something that the markets would view as significant, something the American people would view as significant, something foreign countries would view as significant.”
  17. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska: “Unless the debt limit increase is accompanied by serious efforts to address our ballooning deficits, Sen. Murkowski would vote against a ‘clean’ increase,” spokesman Mike Anderson said.
  18. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. “There has to be a reduction plan of some kind. If we raise the debt ceiling in a vacuum what message is that going to send to the bondholders about whether we are serious about grappling with the long-term debt?” (4/14/11)
  19. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. “He has said all along that this is an opportunity for deficit reduction or budget reform,” spokesman Kyle Downey said. (4/22/11)

** National Journal compiled a “whip list” detailing the stated position of lawmakers on a vote to significantly raise the debt limit without any cuts attached, or on a “clean” vote. The list is based on interviews, statements, other press reports and statements by Senate Republican leaders on the collective views of GOP conference members. Lawmakers’ descriptions of circumstances in which they would back an increase are noted.

*Based on repeated assertions by Senate Republican leaders that the entire GOP conference would oppose increasing the debt ceiling without major spending cuts, all Republicans who did not respond to inquiries or did not express a clear position are counted here as “no” votes. “A serious and credible path forward to reduce spending is the only thing, in my judgment, that will get Republican votes in the Senate to raise the debt ceiling,” McConnell said in April 19 news release.

[1] http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/06/20/248938/franken-debt-ceiling/

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Economic_Stabilization_Act_of_2008

[3] http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/110-2008/s213

[4] http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&session=1&vote=00229

[5] http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/04/14/158424/republican-leaders-debt-limit-hypocrisy/

 

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